“If just one survivor is left standing at the end of a war, then the fight was worth it.”
— Garrus Vakarian, Mass Effect 3
A few weeks back, Olivia Grace at WoW Insider asked readers whether they were a “Goliath” or a “David” when it came to raiding. A “Goliath”-class player was someone who liked being a juggernaut on the field, preferring to smash content out of this game and into the next expansion. “David”-class players, however, go into a fight knowing the odds may not be in their favor— the classic underdog, if you will.
The answer is easy for me. I am, and have always been, an underdog. Life’s had the odds stacked against me since conception— Mom’s time with me wasn’t the easiest, as she had high blood pressure and suffered bloody noses often. At birth, I had to be delivered by caesarean section because, in my impatience, I decided to flip over and go back to sleep with little to no amniotic fluid left in the womb, which caused the cord to begin wrapping itself around me. I was born with a skin condition, a food allergy to peanuts, plus nasal allergies— just to name a few.
And that’s just nine months and T-plus ten minutes into life out of the womb. My mom reminds me often that I’m a born fighter because I’ve known adversity from the very beginning. My family was the “poor” family and constantly mocked, though my relatives never hesitated to enjoy our hospitality at a moment’s notice. It seemed as if every sports team I rooted for were doomed to mediocrity, if not total suckosity.
It’s really not all that different from my first forays into Warcraft. The first guild I joined on my little human warlock imploded at the beginning of Burning Crusade. Raiding was a very dim and almost nonexistent prospect, even when I started on the Horde side as my blood elf hunter, Toriah. Many high-end raiding guilds— the “Goliaths” of my server— were all vying for supremacy and turning their noses at smaller guilds, even laughing at us.
My guild, as you know from the many love letters I’ve written about them, is all about doing things in our own time, in our own way. In Wrath, we pulled together and, despite constantly losing our tenth man, we made it to Arthas. Even in those major boss battles before we reached the Frozen Throne— chiefly Sindragosa— we managed to scrape by with all of us bloodied and tired, but triumphant.
According to my Armory stats, I’ve died to the Lich King 52 times, a couple of which were humorous heroic attempts where we coined the phrase, “Oh look: a shadow trap.” During the night of our first kill, we’d finally perfected the first two phases to a near science and figured out a way to survive the last phase. It was always heartbreaking getting to the last phase and dying because it meant having to do the first two all over again. We’d been getting slagged by the spirits in previous attempts, you see. The other DPS and I were working on Arthas, leaving the spirits to two of our spell casters— a warlock and a shadow priest, who loved his mind sear button very very well. Suddenly, over Vent, we heard our warlock say, “F@#$ the ghosts. Burn this b%@#*.”
I’m pretty sure the majority of us chanced a glance at LK’s health meter that very second and realized we were one percent away from getting him to the very last RP phase, which essentially meant we won. Once we’d whittled away that 1% and Arthas killed us, the RP and cutscene were all drowned out by celebration over Vent.
Our tank was nearly dead. Our healers were out of mana. The DPS had no cooldowns left. But we got it done. It still stands as being one of our greatest moments in guild history. No one had really heard of us on the realm. We weren’t a well-known name— not a “Goliath” by far. Yet here we were, suddenly #2 on the realm for ten-man progression.
We’re a lot like the team in a sports movie where no one’s heard of us and, if they have, they didn’t expect much from us. Then, at the end of the movie, we’re suddenly Stanley World Trophy winners with everyone else scratching their heads, asking, “Where the eff did these people come from?!”
I have a bunch of other stories where there was, literally, only one person left at the end of the boss encounter. Sometimes it was me. On several occasions, it was a paladin of some sort. Whatever it was, it always made for a great story.
For me, it makes the victory that much sweeter. I know winning isn’t mine by right, even in a video game. A lesson I learned very early on in life is that nothing is achieved without a modicum of effort, and there will always be someone who wants to tell you no. “No, you can’t.” “No, you aren’t good enough.” “No, you don’t have a snowball’s chance in Hell.”
Not saying that going back and revisiting raids just to stomp through them isn’t fun, mind you. It is! But a lot of that satisfaction, at least for me, comes from knowing how much blood and sweat my team and I poured into killing the boss the first time.